Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Planning

Organization and time management, two elusive aspirations - or, at least, seemingly so. A couple months after Elise was born, I was so incredibly discouraged by my lack of ability to keep our home in perfect order, prepare meals, grocery shop, care for our little girl, help my husband with his business, nuture our marriage, and find time to rest my exhausted, nauseated, pregnant body. Jonathan  suggested I go and spend some time visiting with his mother and glean some wisdom in this area. I had a wonderful time talking with her, and Jonathan was right, having been a wife and mother for over thirty years, she had some pearls of wisdom for me. One of my favorite nuggets of counsel that she shared the value of using  a weekly schedule. She pointed me to the "Little House on the Prairie" book series and reminded me of how Ma Ingalls had a day for each of her tasks: Monday was laundry, Tuesday was ironing, Wednesday was Mending, Thursday was Churning, Friday was cleaning, Saturday was baking, Sunday was for rest. As my mother-in-law pointed out, when we don't have a set standard for our day and what we desire to accomplish, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the "needs" that are around us, staring us in the face. And once we find ourselves overwhelmed, it's hard to focus and get things done.

Purposeful Weekly Planning

Armed with counsel I set out to give each day a responsibility:
Monday is laundry
Tuesdy is kitchen (i.e. menu planning, food preparation and grocercy list making, organization)
Wednesday is Projects
Thursday is Shopping/Errands
Friday is Deep Cleaning (i.e. mopping, bathrooms, etc)
Saturday is Preparation for the Lord's day
Sunday is a day of rest!

One advantage with having my tasks divided by days is flexibility. For example, let's say that on Tuesday Jonathan is going out to run some errands and he wants me to come with him and do my shopping on the same day so that we can conserve gas. Not a problem, I can take a look at the rest of my week and figure out which day would be best to switch and turn into my kitchen day. However, I do try to get back onto my regular routine the next week.

Hindrances and Challenges

I have found that one of the quickest ways to get off track is to begin a new day with a disorderly home. One of my goals is to have the house picked up and straightened each night before I go to bed. Dishes need to be done, toys put away, clothes away, any projects I had out need to go to their homes, any straightening of couch pillows or throw blankets, etc. Believe it or not, this can be a lot more challenging than it seems, or at least, it can be for me. I find that I have one major pitfall in this area: The temptation to "take a break". While a break is good and needful, if I sit down, I tend to get distracted and/or I realize how tired I really am and lose all motivation to get back up and do any tidying. Some days it's a matter of "going to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise". I try to motivate myself by remembering that the virtuous woman, "looketh well to the ways of her household", and that in the end, giving just a little bit more of myself before my day is done will be a blessing when I wake the next day and face my tasks with a clean and orderly environment to work in.
Another challenge comes when I begin a new day with the previous day's projects incomplete. I try to fix this by paying attention to which days I am most likely to have an overabundance of work that will flow over into the next day. To illustrate: for me, it makes sense to have my project day follow my kitchen day. The projects that I have are ones that I can take my time with, such as putting together Elise's baby book, working on mending Jon's jeans, sewing projects . . . you get the idea. Because of this, I am able to handle other tasks, or even switch the focus of my day for that week, to pick up where I left off Tuesday. Also, Saturday, as preparation for the Lord's day tends to be a simpler day and therefore can handle any overflow from Friday.

Establishing God-Honoring Priorities

We do have to be careful not to overdo it and compromise our health or safety. I am constantly learning to decipher those days when I truly cannot, or better yet, should not push myself for the sake of my physical health. There are those days when the body has taken all the beatings it can safetly bear; on such days, it's best to do a quick tidy and go rest. By way of example, on such days I might just confine all the dishes to one counter, wipe down the others and not worry about anything else.

Other days, we may find ourselves going through seasons of sickness. We are just now working our way out of one such season right now. Elise had a fever, ear problems, and respiratory difficulties last weekend. Guess what? The dishes sat unattened, sweeping wasn't done, that's okay! I am working on catching up now, and I must add, that I am incredibly blessed with a husband who has been helping to restore order and get laundry under control as well!

The last point, which frankly, is probably most important is prioritizing my husband and his needs above having a tidy home. And to meet those needs, whatever they may be, with joy and without being distracted about the dirty dishes.

Pressing On

I don't have everything "under my belt" in regards to carrying out my daily/weekly tasks. I am still learning how to best manage my time so that I am not frantically trying to make my grocery list Thursday morning before heading to the store (for me, I tend to draw serious mental blanks if I do this) :-)
While I am not perfect, while I can't offer years of wisdom and experience, I do hope that my feeble efforts can encourage and inspire others in the quest to be a wise manager of the limited time that God has given us.


"So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

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